Your Beginning Basic Airsoft Buyer's Guide
Whether you're just getting into airsoft or you've been playing for a long time, you still need to know how to buy the best guns, equipment and accessories. Airsoft guns are scale replicas of real firearms, but they shoot only six millimeter pellets, not real guns.
However, since they look like the real thing, you'll need to know the laws in your area to find out whether or not you can legally use and carry them. After all, they weigh, look and feel a like the real thing. In many countries, airsoft guns will carry an orange tip to show that they're not a real firearm.
There are three basic kinds of airsoft gun - spring powered, gas powered, and automatic electric. Automatic electrics are the most popular and readily available kind of airsoft gun. The most popular gun replicas are made in this variety, and they use rechargable batteries to power a motor. This launches pellets at a rate of around two hundred fifty to five hundred feet per second, and gives a one hundred foot effective range. These guns are available in plastic and metal types.
Metal gearboxes are more expensive, but they produce more power, allowing for faster firing. Automatic electric guns also come in pistol types, but these are less powerful, and offer relatively slow pellet velocities. Electric airsoft guns have parts and upgrades that are easy to find, and they're safer to transport and store than gas. They're also more expensive, will wear out more quickly, can have low battery life and may have lower firing power than gas powered guns.
Gas powered airsoft guns come in several types as well. Gas blowback, gas nonblowback and CO2 nonblowback guns are the most common. They use compressed air or carbon dioxide to propel the pellet from the barrel and move the slide back. Propane is the other major propellant, and will be scented to indicate leaks. Butane is also used. Blowback gas guns move the slide back in the same way that a real gun's slide would move, while nonblowback guns will not do so. These look and feel more realistic than nonblowback guns.
Nonblowback guns are more gas conservative and quite powerful. They lose the realistic feel that many people are interested in getting, however. CO2 varieties require special magazines and may need to be upgraded, since CO2 puts more strain on an airsoft gun. Gas guns offer a high rate of fire and a lot of power, are quicker to recharge than electric types, and can get a reasonably large amount of power even in a compact gun, such as a pistol. The down side is that these are costly to operate, can be dangerous if left in hot areas, and may be more difficult to upgrade than electrics.
Spring loaded guns are the original variety used when airsoft was first becoming popular. They're relatively reliable and offer a fairly large amount of power for the price. They're also easy to upgrade and less likely to be subject to environmental conditions than gas or electric guns. They're cheap to use and cheap to buy, because they require no fuel. However, unlike electric or gas models, they don't offer automatic firing.
Airsoft guns come in a number of major categories, just like regular guns. There are assault rifle types, SMG, sniper rifles, machine guns, pistols and even shotguns. These can be found in styles that mimic just about every popular type of real world weapon available. They're made by all kinds of companies, and there are several levels of quality. The highest end airsoft guns are meant for collectors and serious competitors, and can run more than two hundred and fifty dollars. They contain a lot of metal parts, are more reliable, and can be found under brand names like Tokyo Marui and Classic Army. Some firearm manufacturers also sell airsoft guns using their own names. Remington is one.
Lesser brands are generally copying the guns put out by the high end producers, but are still worthwhile. The high end of the mid-range runs between a hundred seventy-five and two hundred fifty dollars, and is great for entry level competitors, or serious competitors who have a budget to deal with. Mid level guns are good for first time buyers and casual airsoft players, and generally fill in the hundred to hundred and seventy five dollar bracket. The low end of the spectrum is made up by inexpensive guns that feel a lot like toys. They're not worth it if you're really interested in getting into airsoft in most cases.
Remember not to buy based on brand name alone or on the seller's description. Especially on online auction sites such as Ebay, sellers are likely to exaggerate. Instead, learn all you can about the gun you're thinking of buying. This will allow you to protect yourself and get a good deal on what you're really interested in using. Remember to invest in eye and face protection, as well as other appropriate safety gear, when you buy your gun. Never operate one of these guns without them! Remember that you can't use airsoft guns in public areas in most countries, as well.
Take care of any airsoft gun you decide to buy. If you use the wrong ammo, charge the batteries too long, or load it incorrectly, you'll lose your warranty. Avoid disassembling your gun on your own, too - unless you happen to be an expert. When you buy, remember that there are lots of moving parts to these guns, and there's no such thing as one that won't wear out. The level of care and maintenance will affect how long yours lasts.
Airsoft can be a really entertaining sport, as long as you use the right equipment and know what you're doing. When you go to buy your airsoft equipment, make sure that you pay attention to what you're buying and know exactly what you want. That'll help you get a great gun, and a great deal, too.